Impostors & Amnesty of SHIELD

Something legally cool happened on Agents of SHIELD: They acknowledged Grant Ward was going to get a trial. Sure, his brother Senator Christian Ward was politically motivated to see Ward tried during an election year, but it was nice to see Ward move out of the basement for trial. Nothing says brotherly love than a well-earned firing squad.

How did we end up discussing a trial? HYDRA broke into a meeting at the United Nations dressed as SHIELD Agents and shot a diplomat with a disintegration weapon.

Great way to start a world war AND commit criminal impersonation.

HYDRA’s Criminal Impersonation

New York defines criminal impersonation in the first degree when someone pretends to be a Federal law enforcement officer, including the full-spectrum of postal inspectors to Coast Guard to ATF. NY CLS Penal § 190.26 and NY CLS CPL § 2.15. The law further states that when someone is wearing a uniform of a Federal law enforcement officer, badge, or other insignia, and acts with intent to induce another to submit to such pretended official authority and commits or attempts to commit a felony while doing so. NY CLS Penal § 190.26.

CriminalImpersonation_NYCAs SHIELD was deemed a terrorist organization and no longer operating as Federal law enforcement, it is legally impossible for HYDRA to commit criminal impersonation in the first degree.

However, cut off one law, two more will takes its place.

The HYDRA could be convicted of criminal impersonation in the second degree, which requires someone pretending to be a representative of an organization with the intent to injure another. NY CLS Penal § 190.25(2).

As HYDRA was masquerading as SHIELD Agents who unlawfully entered the United Nations and committed murder, the requirements of criminal impersonation in the second degree are fully met.

Does SHIELD Now Have Amnesty?

The story ends with Grant Ward being transferred to US custody for prosecution for treason. General Talbot takes additional HYDRA prisoners into custody in Belgium from Agent May. General Talbot goes so far as to offer his respects for the six SHIELD Agents killed in action.

Senator_UnitedNations_LoganActSenator Ward gave a speech at the United Nations about his brother being a traitor. The “tale of two brothers” drove home the point there were good people in SHIELD who did not know there were also HYDRA Agents poisoning the organization.

Does this mean our heroes are going to escape prosecution themselves?

One option is for President Ellis to pardon any SHIELD Agents who were not members of HYDRA. President Andrew Johnson had multiple pardons granting amnesty to Southerners who had committed treason for the Confederacy. All that was initially required was taking an oath to the United States to restore peace and national authority. United States v. Klein, 80 U.S. 128, 140-141 (U.S.1872). There were of course exceptions and a ticked off Congress who did not care for the pardons, given the scope of the war that had been fought against the traitors.

Congress passing a “SHIELD Amnesty Act” for all loyal members of SHIELD is another way to avoid prosecuting Director Coulson and his team. Senator Christian Ward could champion such a bill while zealously seeking his brother’s prosecution for treason by the Department of Justice.

Whichever path they take, it was cool to see Mockingbird wearing a Star Wars shirt. Well played, SHIELD, well played.

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Josh Gilliland
Josh Gilliland is a California attorney who focuses his practice on eDiscovery. Josh is the co-creator of The Legal Geeks, which has made the ABA Journal Top Blawg 100 Blawg for 2013 to 2016, and was nominated for Best Podcast for the 2015 Geekie Awards. Josh has presented at legal conferences and comic book conventions across the United States. He also ties a mean bow tie.